The champ is here! The champ is here! Step aside, step aside y’all, we’re dancing into the winner’s circle to profile the top prospects of the World Series Champion Houston Astros. To say the Astros have built a winner through their astute drafting and international prowess is an understatement. Players like Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Lance McCullers all were developed in house, and plenty of additional homegrown talent was shipped out to reinforce the MLB club for the stretch run. So this is definitely a different system than the one profiled by yours truly over the last couple of offseasons. With a slew of graduations and trades, there’s a collection of high end talents from 1-4, followed by some above average high minors types, a handful of talented international lottery tickets, and a plethora of hard-throwing pen types. Houston seems to tread between a bunch of labels when it comes to pinpointing the best way to describe the system, but the most apt description is a good player development organization that needs to restock in the 2018 draft and international signing period. Without further ado it’s the Houston Astros Top Prospects.

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Welcome to the only baseball podcast that will drop the day after Game Seven of the World Series that will not be talking about Game Seven of the World Series. Well, that’s actually not 100% true. We do talk about how we won’t be talking about it. It’s prospects 24/7 around these parts. Ralph Lifshitz and I continue our top 100 series on today’s podcast, analyzing prospects who fall in the 21-50 range. We discuss our level of concern over the less than enthusiastic scouting reports Kevin Maitan has been receiving, if Kyle Lewis’ continued knee problems have him dropping, and if Harrison Bader will be able to carve out a role in St. Louis’ crowded outfield. On the plus side, we gush over Anthony Alford’s power/speed combo, hype up what Luiz Gohara is capable of, and predict big things for Christin Stewart in the Majors during the 2nd half. We talk about everybody from Forrest Whitley, Austin Meadows, MacKenzie Gore, Hunter Greene, and Jordon Adell, to Tyler O’Neill, Mitch Keller, Jahmai Jones, Michel Baez, and many more. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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I know, you thought it was going to be 100 prospects right? Well, it’s a good news/bad news thing. The good news is I will be ranking the Top 100 Prospects and beyond, however I will be doing them in increments of 50. So the bad news is you only get 4,000+ words and 50 prospects to read. Lets be honest, we are amongst friends here right? Even 4,000 words is at least two, if not three bathroom sessions. I know that’s when you read these, and I’m cool with it. Now that we’ve made assumptions about your bathroom reading habits, lets move along. As always, I’ve tried to balance the right now value of “close to the majors” prospects vs the high end talent. While also trying to be somewhat objective, and conscientious of the general consensus, which is important to trade value. That’s not to say I don’t go rouge and aggressively rank some players I like. Ahhh, who am I kidding it’s all personal bias. So here you go, dig in. The next 50 will drop on Wednesday at the stroke of midnight.

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Ralph Lifshitz and I start the podcast by reminiscing about the good ol’ days when we played tackle football without pads on and were constantly breaking our fingers, ribs, noses, and orbital bones. Nowadays, my biggest concern is this stiff neck I’ve had all day from sleeping the wrong way. We then move right into bemoaning the fact that Willie Calhoun personally declared, “I will not get called up,” along with talking about a few players who did get the call, including Jack Flaherty, Tyler Mahle, Francisco Mejia, and Alex Verdugo. The meat of the show is all about ranking the top starting pitchers, discussing everybody from Michael Kopech, Brent Honeywell, Forrest Whitley, and Sixto Sanchez, to Michel Baez, Joey Wentz, Corbin Burnes, Trevor Rogers and everyone in between. As always, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game (now shipping to Canada). It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

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I was all set to open with Triston McKenzie’s 6 no hit innings, but then Rafael Devers collected his third hit of the night in his AAA debut. In the midst of writing this post while regretting my choice to spend my Saturday afternoon, and early evening, and night watching that Marathon Red Sox and Yankees affair, I had the alert pop up on my phone that Devers was about to make his 4th at bat of the night. So I turned away from McKenzie, turned away from Ronald Acuna (2 for 4, 2R, 1Bb, 1 RBI) and Ozzie Albies (1 for 5, 1R) vs Yoan Moncada (1 for 4, 1R, 2 SO’s) in the Charlotte vs. Gwinnett game, and tuned into the PawSox vs Syracuse affair to witness Devers 4th at bat of the contest. The Chiefs (Washington’s AAA affiliate) brought in veteran Neal Cotts of 10 years MLB experience to get the lefty on lefty matchup with Devers. Ahead of Cotts in a 2-1 count Devers hit a ball middle-up to right field for his first AAA homer.

The following inning he made a bare-handed play on the run, throwing out Pedro Severino.

The rumors are swirling regarding Todd Frazier to the Red Sox, with Ken Rosenthal deducing the trade was “almost inevitable”. I for one as a life-long Red Sox fan, and avid follower and fan of prospects, team-building, and organizational depth make this plea to one David Dombrowski. Sir, please don’t trade anything for Todd Frazier and his .210 batting average. Give Lin another week or two, let Devers shine in Pawtucket, and call the kid up around the trade deadline. It costs you nothing but a 40 man spot, why delay the inevitable for a rental? Xander Bogaerts came up late in 2013, and was better for his experience down the stretch and into the post-season. Much like Ronald Acuna has in the early stages of his AAA career, Devers may force the Red Sox hand, as he just looks so much better than anything they can acquire. Simple logic really, why give up assets when you don’t have to?… Anyway, here’s what else I saw in MiLB.

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There’s really no need for any introduction on this one, it’s the post upon which all prospectors are judged. It’s the Mid-Season Update to my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Full disclosure, I was loosey-goosey with the eligibility rules this time around. So, while some players in the majors and under their limits might appear on this list (Clint Frazier, Franklin Barreto, Etc.), others don’t (Raimel Tapia). No rhyme or reason to it, what-so-ever. This list feels more upside heavy to me, but there was no slant or algorithm for my ranks. Just good old fashioned personal bias, of which I have plenty. Seriously, I’m an opinionated lad! But that’s why I do this in the first place. Please keep in mind, this list is 100% fantasy focused. Meaning it might differ quite a bit from other Top 100’s you may come across. Anyway, thanks for reading and enjoy! The next 100 (101-200) will be out on Thursday.

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Coming off a start in which he whiffed a career high 12 batters, Brent Honeywell continued his scorching hot start last night. The righty went 7 innings, allowing 1 run, 1 hit, and striking out 8 in the process. Now at AA Montgomery, Honeywell looks to ride his varied arsenal, including his infamous screwball, to the show by the end of the year. The only real question with Honeywell at the moment is, just how aggressive the Rays get moving him along? His control has always been elite, leading to walk rates in the 4-6% range. And while the ability to generate swings and misses has always been there, it’s noticeably ticked up this season. The time to buy Honeywell might be now as he continues his assault on the AA Southern League. I’m never one to invest much in a pitching prospect, particularly one in the AL East, but Honeywell is the rare exception.

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Way back in the late fall, I released my Original edition of the first year player draft rankings. So, it’s been awhile since I first wrote those, and ranked these players out. I figured it was about time to update those now dated ranks. The question you may be asking yourself is “Ralph, why are you so handsome, and also what’s changed?” Well I’ll tell you, I “gots somes” experience now. Because, over the last month plus I’ve had several first year player drafts, meaning I “gots somes” actual real life draft knowledge to draw from. Not to mention my ever-evolving opinions and evaluations of players. So what better time to update the rankings, and give you an idea as to where my heads at after reviewing all of these youngins over the course of my team by team prospect rankings. I’ve fallen in love with some, soured on others, and been introduced to players I previously overlooked. If these rankings are too late for your league’s draft, my apologies, and I understand your angst. We’re deep into draft season, meaning our collective sweatpants smell of rot and butt cheeks, it’s okay to be ornery.  I’ll make it easy, use small words, and discuss lots of wildly inaccurate and inappropriate expectations to put on a teenager. It’s all good though because it’s in the name of fantasy baseball.

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It seems like only yesterday the Astros were the laughing stock of the AL. Times were lean, with very little talent and a decade of futility, there seemed to be little to no light at the end of the tunnel. In just a few short years General Manager Jeff Luhnow has turned around both the farm system and major league club, to the point that each is bursting at the seams with talent. The last two years have brought about the dawn of a new era in Houston; defined by young talented players all over the field, and an aggressive approach in free agency, the trade market and draft. In the last two seasons alone the Astros have welcomed multiple impact rookies in the form of Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, and Alex Bregman. With a host of others not too far behind, the ‘Stros look set to compete for years to come. Seriously, you can’t imagine how much work it is to do a Podcast on Houston Astros Prospects and follow it up with a magnum opus post about Houston Astros prospects? They have so much dynasty goodness it’s unbelievable. I’m not joking when I say I feel like I could just draft Astros players and manage to field a solid squad. Albeit one that needs to trade some of it’s prospect depth for pitching, but that’s besides the point. This is a long one, so enough with the small talk let’s discuss some Houston Astros Prospects! Wooooooo!!!

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